John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry recently made a profound post on his Linkedin profile, pointing out the importance of selflessness in the workplace. In many workplaces, and even among entrepreneurs, there is an unfortunate trend of people working against one another instead of working together.
The constant bickering and backstabbing that has sadly become a part of our working environment, is largely due to a false drive to be a “superstar.” People believe that if they can outshine their peers and call everyone’s attention to their alleged superiority, that they will somehow go farther in life. However, this idea cannot be anymore false, because this type of ego based approach often backfires, and creates endless obstacles for the potential “superstar.”
As Chen points out in his post, when someone is on a quest to be a superstar in the workplace, they typically provoke some very negative feelings from their co-workers, which in the end makes the superstar’s job more difficult, and will guarantee that they will never get any genuine help or care when the actually need it. On the other hand, as Chen explains, if someone works selflessly they are able to improve the situation of their co-workers, and themselves, even more so than they would have by playing the role of a superstar.
Chen’s full post can be read below:
It’s obvious that being good at your job is good for your career. But being a superstar can actually hurt it.
I know how counterintuitive that sounds, so let me explain. Most employees think that the best way to show value to their boss and get promoted is to aggressively claim credit and ownership over everything they do. While it’s important to be recognized for what you do and the value you add, grabbing the glory is going to turn off your co-workers. And speaking as a CEO, trying too hard to show you’re a superstar tells me that you only care about what’s best for you, and not the company as a whole.
What if you’re successful in convincing everyone that you are a true superstar, the best at your job in the entire company? Well, being irreplaceable is a double-edged sword. It not only means you’re unfireable — you’re also unpromotable. Again, from my vantage point, why would I allow one employee to be promoted to another job if it creates a huge void elsewhere?
So my advice to young workers and even mid-career managers is this: be as unselfish as possible. That means not only helping others with their jobs, but actively training people to do your job well. This helps your co-workers, helps your company, and helps you.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.